Share this article

print logo

Bills must think inside the box to stop Jaguars' running tandem

1. Two-headed monster

Jaguars RBs Fred Taylor (604 yards) and Maurice Jones-Drew (569 yards, 5 yards per carry) spearhead one of NFL's best rushing attacks. Taylor is a big back (6-1, 226), but he's quick and elusive. Jones-Drew (5-7, 212) is built like a fire hydrant, but he's a physical runner between tackles and is reliable on goal line (six touchdowns). . . . Bills have lacked consistency in stopping run, but must be stouter today. Look for them to bring SS Donte Whitner into box and move linebackers close to line of scrimmage to force Jags to run against eight- and nine-man fronts. . . . Despite Buffalo's emphasis on stopping run, Jacksonville must keep feeding Taylor and Jones-Drew so they give offense some balance.

2. Who's the man?

RB Marshawn Lynch is out with a sprained ankle, but Bills must find a way to run and keep Jags honest and take pressure off QB J.P. Losman. . . . Middle of Jags' defense is weakened by absence of MLB Mike Peterson (broken hand) and Pro Bowl DT Marcus Stroud (NFL drug suspension). But Jags still have some beef inside with DTs John Henderson (6-7, 325) and Grady Jackson (6-1, 345). OLBs Daryl Smith and Clint Ingram are quick and active. . . . Bills may use more three-receiver formations to spread out Jags' defense and give RBs Anthony Thomas, Dwayne Wright and Fred Jackson some room to run.

3. One more chance.

Despite two sub-par games, Losman gets his fourth straight start. To keep the job, he'll need to play much better than he has the past two games. . . . Jags rank near bottom of league in passing yards allowed and could be without their best cover cornerback, Pro Bowler Rashean Mathis (groin). Losman must exploit this weakness and get ball to WRs Lee Evans, Josh Reed and Roscoe Parrish. . . . Jags have 24 sacks. DEs Reggie Hayward and Paul Spicer have to generate pressure to help secondary. Jags want to eliminate Evans' big-play ability. Look for them to rotate a safety toward Evans and help their cornerback neutralize him. If Evans is double covered, Losman must look to other options.

4. Garrard grows into job.

Jags' commitment to QB David Garrard has paid off. He was impressive last week in his return after missing three-plus games with an ankle injury. Garrard, who hasn't thrown an interception in 172 attempts, manages offense well and helps team control clock. . . . Bills are last in NFL with nine sacks, but they have been effective creating pressure with blitzes. Bills should be aggressive but disciplined coming after Garrard, who has ability to scramble. . . . With Bills focused on stopping run, Garrard should look for TEs Marcedes Lewis and George Wrightster over middle behind linebackers and use WRs Dennis Northcutt, Reggie Williams and Ernest Wilford on crossing routes. Jones-Drew is a good receiver out of backfield. Bills have NFL's worst third-down defense, so Garrard has chance to keep drives alive with his arm and legs.
5. Triple trouble.

Jags have one of best return games Bills have faced this season. In addition to being an excellent runner and receiver, Jones-Drew is outstanding returning kickoffs, averaging 27.8 yards per return. Northcutt averages 10.4 yards on punt returns. . . . Bills returners Terrence McGee and Roscoe Parrish will be challenged by Jags' coverage teams, which allow fewest kickoff return yards (16.9) in NFL and ranks eighth in punt return yards allowed (7.1). . . . P Brian Moorman could give Bills an advantage in field position. More than 35 percent of his punts have been downed inside opponents' 20-yard line.

Jags look to solidify their playoff chances while damaging Bills' postseason hopes. Jacksonville, 20-16.

There are no comments - be the first to comment